By Daniel L. Mannen, OD, FAAO October 21, 2011

In my travels around the U.S. talking with doctors, I have heard lots of buzz around the emergence of online optical.

VSP launched Eyeconic this summer to give private-practice doctors the opportunity to participate in the online market place while helping to retain the important connection between doctor and patient.

Before I go on, let me make one thing perfectly clear: VSP is not trying to encourage patients to leave our dispensaries for the Internet. There is no match for the personalized eyecare VSP doctors give in the office. Eyeconic was developed to address the patient who has already decided to shop online and reconnect them with the doctor.

Make no mistake. I am not wild about online purchasing. In fact, I am not in favor of any prescription leaving my dispensary for destinations unknown. I suspect that every doctor shares similar feelings. But whether we like it or not, online purchasing is growing and it is here to stay. In my mind, the question is not if we should find a way to participate but instead, how we should participate. If we ignore the online trend, we risk losing our connection to the Internet shopping patient.

So, if certain patients are choosing to shop online despite our best efforts to keep them in our dispensaries, what are we to do? Should we simply offer them their prescription as they leave the office to let them search the internet on their own? I believe patients need our help in choosing their online source. It is far better for the patient if we direct them to a trusted site where we can guarantee both quality and service.

Today, patients can go to eyeconic.com to purchase contact lenses and browse sunglasses. Contact lens prescriptions are verified by Eyeconic with the prescribing doctor who is reimbursed for product support and the Rx is filled for the patient. Patients browsing online are also able to view a large portfolio of sunglasses and find doctors who carry those brands in their dispensaries. Spectacle prescriptions cannot be filled on Eyeconic today, but may be in the future. Benefit integration is also being considered, wherein, VSP members could use their benefits on Eyeconic. In all cases, patients would be referred back to their VSP doctor for personalized care and service.

We do not have all the answers about how best to deal with the emerging trend of online purchasing. Who can predict the ultimate effect? Just for the record, I plan to use Eyeconic, whenever a patient asks for a copy of their prescription to shop online. In such a case, assuming that my tackling them at the door is unsuccessful, I will offer them eyeconic.com as a trusted source where they can fill their prescription. I think this gives me the best opportunity to appear helpful rather than defensive and increases the likelihood of their return for additional services.

As I see it, with over 200 online suppliers out there today, Eyeconic gives me something that I can offer those patients who have made up their minds to shop online.

Register for an upcoming webcast to learn more about Eyeconic.

  • Tuesday, October 25 - 8:00 a.m. or 5:30 p.m. Pacific / 10 a.m. or 7:30 p.m. Central

  • Wednesday, November 30 - 8:00 a.m. or 5:30 p.m. Pacific / 10 a.m. or 7:30 p.m. Central*

Register Now!

* This date was revised after posting.

***Update, April 2015***
To meet evolving consumer demands, improvements are continually being made to the eyeconic.com shopping experience. For consumers who wish to shop online, we want to offer the choice and convenience they expect from an online store as well as the confidence that they’re supported by the expert service and care of a VSP network provider. Please feel free to call 1-855-393-2664 or email info@eyeconic.com for more information about these changes.  

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